What Happens If I Am Caught with a Firearm in Illinois?
Recent shootings throughout the United States have gotten lawmakers and American citizens into heated debates about the right to own firearms and how they can be carried, openly or concealed. You might feel like it is time to buy a gun, or, if you’re a current gun owner, to carry it with you more often. However, if you do not have the proper license or bring a firearm to specific, restricted buildings, you could get charged and face serious consequences.
As we hear news stories of different gun restrictions in different states, it is important to refresh our knowledge of gun possession right here at home. Having this information can keep you out of big trouble in a highly tense time.
Please note that this is information that pertains simply to being caught possessing a firearm. If you are caught unlawfully using a firearm, you will face more severe consequences and charges.
Getting Caught without a FOID Card
To purchase or possess a gun, you must have a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card (FOID.) The following requirements must be met in order to apply for your FOID:
- Must be over 21 years of age
- Must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident
- Must be eligible to purchase and possess a firearm under federal law
- Must not be a convicted felon
- Must not be addicted to certain controlled substances
- Must not be considered “mentally impaired” or “intellectually disabled” under Illinois state law
You must have your FOID card on you while you carry a weapon in Illinois. If you are caught possessing a weapon without a FOID card and you still qualify for the card, you will be charged with a class A misdemeanor.
If you are caught possessing a weapon without a FOID card and you do not qualify for the card, you will be charged with a class 3 felony.
Getting Caught Without a Concealed Carry Permit
Open carry is illegal in Illinois, but in 2013, we became the last state in the nation to allow concealed carry. You must undergo 16 hours of basic firearm training in order to carry a weapon concealed near or on your person, making ours one of the hardest states in which to obtain a concealed carry permit.
If you are caught carrying a firearm without your permit, you will face felony charges.
Getting Caught Where Concealed Carry Is Prohibited
While concealed carry is legal in Illinois, there are still areas in which firearms are not allowed under any circumstances.
- Educational facilities
- State and local government buildings (i.e. courthouses)
- Hospitals and mental health facilities
- Public transportation
- Public gatherings and demonstrations
- Public playgrounds or parks
- Libraries, amusement, parks, museums
If you are caught carrying a firearm in any of these places (and have your concealed carry permit on your person), you will be charged with a class B misdemeanor for your first offense. Second violations will be charged as a class A misdemeanor, and your permit may be suspended for up to six months.
One of the most common places to get caught with a firearm is in your car. You may be transporting a firearm home from purchasing it, or heading out to go hunting. No matter where you are heading with your firearm, you must have it:
- In a firearm carrying box that properly stores and encloses the weapon
- With a valid and present FOID card
Failing to meet any of these requirements will result in a Class 4 Felony.
If you face weapons charges, it is important to fight for your innocence and your future rights to possess a firearm. Contact an Illinois criminal defense lawyer today.
About the Author:
Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, Murder, and drug crimes.